William E. Dalton, Jr., age 94, of South Hadley, passed away on Wednesday, December 30, 2020 at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton. He was born in Albany, NY, son of the late William E. and Bridget (McCarthy) Dalton, grew up in Holyoke and lived there until moving to South Hadley in 1973. Bill was a United States Navy Veteran of World War II. He graduated early from Holyoke High School and went to US Navy boot camp on January 13, 1944. After completing training at both the Aviation Machinist Mate and Arial Gunnery Schools, where he was trained by Robert Stack (actor and champion skeet shooter), he joined the crew of the USS PRINCETON CVL-23. As a crew member, he was a rear gunner and radioman in a HELLDIVER dive bomber. His first experience in combat came at the beginning of October 1944 and then in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. During the battle, the Princeton was sunk while he was in the air. They were instructed to find a place to land and ended up landing on a Japanese air strip that the Marines had just taken on Leyte Island. He was then involved in the Luzon Campaign-Battle of Mindoro. From there he was assigned to the Navy version of B-24 Liberator heavy bomber as a top turret gunner. After making multiple bombing raids on Japanese fuel and supply depots he was then involved in the Okinawa Gunto Operation (The Battle of Okinawa.) During the beginning of the battle on April 6th or 7th after returning from a bombing run over Okinawa as their B-24 just crossed over the ocean a Japanese Kamikazi came from above and rammed their plane causing it to crash into the ocean. Bill survived the crash and spent 15 hours in the ocean until being picked up. After being recovered he was sent to Hawaii and then sent home on leave for 30 days. However, before returning home his parents were told he was killed in action. To his parents surprise he walked through the front door of their apartment on 104 Hampshire Street in Holyoke. After his leave ended, he was assigned to join another carrier in Philadelphia. This was a new Essex Class carrier that was going to be involved in sea trials before returning to the fight in the Pacific. The new ship was the USS PRINCETON CV-37. This ship went to sea on July 8, 1945 with the plan of spending 8 to 12 weeks going through sea trials before heading to the Pacific. However, while the Princeton was involved in sea trials the war ended with the dropping of the two atomic bombs on Japan in August 1945. After the sea trials were completed the ship returned to Philadelphia where Bill remained until being discharged in 1946. Bill was employed as a drop forger at Moore Drop Forge Company, the Springfield Armory and retired from the Holyoke Post Office where he worked as a letter carrier for many years. He was a communicant of St. Theresa Church in South Hadley and a member of the American Legion Post 351 in Holyoke. Bill is survived by his wife of 71 years, Olga (Sullikowski) Dalton; his children: Patricia Dalton, Kathleen McGovern and her husband Frank, John Dalton and his wife Linda, William E. Dalton III and his wife Pamela, and his grandchildren: John McGovern, Nancy McGovern, Alec Dalton, Evan Dalton and his wife Jillian, William E. Dalton IV, Andrea Scouras and her husband James; a great grandson, Alexander Scouras and one brother, Leonard Dalton and his wife Leona. Predeceased by his sisters Dorothy and Evelyn. All Services are private. The Barry J. Farrell Funeral Home is handling the arrangements. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to: Shriners Hospital for Children or Western Mass Elder Care.
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